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Respectable music - but ever so sexy; Culture Diary MUSIC RLPO/Petrenko, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool Collective 'phew' that told its own story Liverpool 08 EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE.

Byline: BY GLYN MON HUGHES Daily Post Correspondent

WE MAY think that we know all about sex. We may think that we are so worldy and that, these days, anything goes.

That's probably true but those Victorian Romantics were no straight-laced bunch and were keen to let rip when the occasion demanded it - with Wagner first in line when it came to explicitly descriptive music. The famously sensual prelude to Tristan must be Wagner's best-known piece of eroticism, but we forget Tannhauser at our peril.

And the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of the Overture and Venusberg music from the latter music-drama proved the point.

Unabashed sexual antics hiding within the respectability of the operatic world.

The superb woodwind ensemble sailed through the tricky start to this piece with great aplomb and, despite some extraordinarily powerful fortissimos - witness the collective "phew" at the conclusion of this piece - it was the exquisite pianissimos which made this performance so memorable.

Conductor Vasily Petrenko clearly had the massive orchestra under his thumb for this performance.

That was even more evident in the only other work in the programme - Holst's evergreen Planets suite. With barely the space for a cigarette paper to fit between players on the platform, this work, popular though it is, needs skill and tenacity to pull it off. And that happened.

Thinking beyond the performance itself, Holst's music feels, at times, far ahead of its time.

And, with a few niggling reservations, this was another great performance for Petrenko and the RLPO. The concert is repeated tonight.

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Vasily Petrenko - clearly had the massive RLPO under his thumb
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2008
Words:269
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